8th China-Africa Youth Festival opens, aims for exchanges
Initiative ‘plays important role in shaping the future’
Published: May 20, 2024 10:01 PM
Photo: Wu Jie/GT

Photo: Wu Jie/GT

The 8th China-Africa Youth Festival kicked off in Beijing on Monday as ­African youths are seeking more people-to-people exchanges with their Chinese counterparts.

Young representatives from 52 African member countries of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) were invited to experience traditional Chinese culture, engage with Chinese government departments, share experiences in business development, participate in China-Africa youth dialogues, visit historical and cultural sites, and launch the "What Can I Do for China-Africa Friendship" initiative during the weeklong event in Beijing and East ­China's Zhejiang Province. 

Li Bin, chairperson of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, declared the opening of the event at the China Soong Ching Ling Science and Culture Center for Young People. The event is being jointly hosted by the foundation, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Zhejiang provincial government. 

John Paradza, an African youth representative and deputy secretary-general of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Youth League, said that the festival will inspire and empower Chinese and African youths. 

"The initiative will undoubtedly play an important role in shaping the future development of our respective countries," said Paradza. 

Chen Xiaodong, a vice minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the festival has become an important brand under the framework of the FOCAC and place where Chinese and African youths gather to strengthen friendship. This brand has promoted cultural exchange and friendship between the people of China and Africa.

"Through your visits to Beijing and Zhejiang, you will gain personal experiences of the everyday charm of Chinese-style modernization, engage in deep exchanges, and learn from each other. This will inject fresh 'youthful energy' into China-Africa friendship and cooperation," Chen said. 

"We look forward to the upcoming summit of the FOCAC to be held this autumn in Beijing. It is certain to open a new chapter in the development of China-Africa relations and write a new page in the history of China-Africa friendship and cooperation," Chen noted.

Photo: Wu Jie/GT

Photo: Wu Jie/GT

After the opening ceremony, the African representatives took part in a number of workshops to experience Chinese culture, including ceramics, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), calligraphy, woodblock printing, dyeing and tea ceremonies.

Mariama Bah, a woman from Sierra Leone, told the Global Times that she looks forward to the opportunities to connect with Chinese youths on her first trip to China and bringing her experiences back to her country.

"I'm happy to have such beautiful experiences in China. The event provides us a great opportunity to engage with Chinese youths and promote mutual learning," she said while grinding herbs into powder at a TCM workshop.

The festival was initiated based on the consensus reached by the heads of states at the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. It aims to promote youth exchanges between China and Africa, continue the traditional friendship between the two regions, and cultivate successors for the cause of China-Africa friendship.

Ibrahima Sylla, ambassador of Senegal to China, said that the forum is not just a platform to strengthen China-Africa relations, but also aims to establish cooperative relationships at the institutional level between China and Africa. In particular, it seeks to foster cooperation among youth organizations, "as we believe our future lies in the hands of the youth."

Currently, there are at least 100,000 African students studying in Chinese academic institutions or in various professional fields. This is extremely important for them to share experiences with their peers, said Sylla. 

"We believe that the cooperation between China and Africa is very diverse, and African countries can benefit from China's support and cooperation. We must look to the future and empower our youth to play a role in our cooperation," Sylla noted. 

The African representatives will visit an electric vehicles manufacturer, Hengdian World Studios and the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University among others places in Zhejiang.

Li said the festival has become a grand event for deepening friendship and mutual learning among Chinese and African youths.

"I believe that this year's event will surely inject new and powerful youthful energy into enhancing mutual understanding, promoting China-Africa friendship, and jointly building China-Africa modernization," Li said.